Underground Show

Music is the lifeblood for my right-sided brain. David Bowie, Blondie, Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello, the Ramones and Madonna supply stimulation while I work on creative endeavors.

New York rock bands from the early 60’s and the 70’s capture my interest. I was always sad that I never had the chance to visit CBGB’s, while it was still a piece of Downtown Manhattan’s quirky collage. However, the bands that emerged from the legendary venue live in my music collection.

While CBGB’s has been replaced with a pricey, John Varvatos shop, life south of 14th street still has a great music scene. For the longest time, I spent all my time downtown and didn’t walk into any music venues. One faithful Saturday night that changed.

Gino phoned me and asked, “Do you wanna see a show in the Lower East Side tonight?” I replied “I’m already in my pajamas.” With a little laughter, he said ” there are going to be half well off drinks.” I walked to my closet to pick out an outfit. “I’ll see you in 30 minutes.”

I took the subway to the Lower East Side and waited for Gino outside the Cake Shop (a coffee shop with an underground concert space). Waiting outside the venue was a parade of hip people. Black rim glasses, quirky style and a bit of irony were the fabric tied to the scene that night. I looked down at the horse at the left hand side of my shirt. “Oh, I’m definitely bringing preppy back.”

Gino met me and we walked downstairs to the show. It was packed, thanks to the drink specials, but I actually was excited to see the band. I hadn’t gone too many concerts.

After, Gino picked us up drinks, the band played. They had a distinctive New York rock band sound. It was Julian Casablanca meets Vampire Weekend. Thanks to my half off drink, I found myself jamming, even with my little horsey, distinguishing me as the lone prep.

I might have missed CBGB, but wow, this was truly fun entertainment. After the show, I felt excited. Not only did I have a fun time, but also did something out of the ordinary. I haven’t gone to many concerts since, but would be open for more fun.

Today, I have a concert playing in my head almost hourly. My favorite music listening experience revolves around ordering a chai latte, blasting Bjork on my iPOD and freely strolling the Lower East Side. It’s my form of creative therapy. Cheers to more loud music and booze.

Mixtape

Friday nights growing up in the 90’s revolved around trips to Costco with my parents. We always bought a huge pizza and brought it home. I’d eat pizza, put on some funky film like Pulp Fiction and lower the volume on the TV down to zero.

I’d then turn on the radio. Friday nights were special. It was the 80’s music marathon on the local radio station. I took out a fresh blank tape from my backpack, slipped it into the radio and waited for a cool song to come on. When that special song came on, I waited for the announcer to stop talking and boom, hit record.

I would then close my eyes as Durran Durran, the Pet Shop Boys, Thompson Twins and Adam Ant would take me away to London in the 80’s. In my head, I was on the top of a double-decker bus in the grey. With the only color being that of the funky hairdos and outrageous outfits of 80’s London. As the song faded, there were commercial breaks. This meant I could sneak in a slice of pizza.

When the music returned it played even more fun tunes. Dramarama’s “anything anything,” “living on video” by Trans-X and Blondie’s “heart of glass” were some of my all time favorite songs, featured on my mix tape. These songs along with all the British new wave, 90’s staples like the Cranberries and hip-hop were a part of the soundtrack of my youth.

In my junior year of college, my friend Holly introduced me to the iPod. I marveled at it and quickly purchased one of my own. I still had the mix tapes at home. However, after a year I gave them up and recreated the soundtrack of my youth through the iPod.

Today, tapes like vinyl records are a source of fascination. Many youngsters will never understand the magic behind the rewind button. However, those of us who grew up with mix tapes, will forever remember the joy found when that song we longed for finally came on the radio and with the record button, it became ours.

Street Culture

The most efficient form of transportation is my two feet. Put a swell pair of sneakers, some wonderful tunes & prepare for an endorphin kick. Back in New York, walking was a huge & very important part of my life. Of course, not just for going from apartment to subway to office & back again, but also leisurely speaking.

I loved taking the subway to 14th street/Union Square. I’d then walk to the East Village with the Ramones blasting on my iPOD. I loved admiring the mom n’ pop restaurants, which represented nations from Poland to India, the vintage shops & interesting people watching.

From Saint Mark’s Place, I’d walk to the West Village. I especially loved walking on Bank Street with it’s too pretty to be real brownstones. On Bleecker Street, I had a favorite bench across from the Magnolia bakery for a quick rest. I then proceeded to walk back Uptown. Walking the streets of the city always provided free entertainment & a wonderful opportunity for exercise.

I also plan on my holidays around feet friendly destinations. Here are some of my favorite walking memories from my many trips abroad.

-Walking Buenos Aires’ Avenida de Julio (the world’s widest street). The Obelisk, French architecture & the papers flying out of windows (was there around new years, they toss out paper work out of office buildings for good luck) made for a very cinematic experience.

-Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. It’s the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. You see everything from school kids to hip Tokyoites to businessmen not bumping into each other in the world’s most congested people traffic. Also the jumbo sized tv screens offer lots of nifty music videos & distinctive noise.

-London’s parks, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, they’re all very scenic. I especially love St. James Park with views of Buckingham Palace & lovely ponds with ducks quacking away at life.

Currently, I live in Southern California (again), where the walking concept is somewhat foreign. It’s a health nut/berries & leaves of the forest loving slice of the world. However, in order to walk here, you must drive to your destination. Giving into pre-requisites, I joined a gym & power walked on a treadmill. Three different cable news channels, sports & local networks dominated the television screens. However, it lacked the street culture I adore. Then I jogged & after fifteen minutes I grew awfully bored.

Therefore, like any good urbanite, I said to hell with the gym. I started walking on actual pavement, rather than a treadmill. The air was as clean as the language in a Quentin Tarantino film & the architecture as stimulating as watching cornfields sway in the wind.

However, I blasted some Blondie & made the best of my location. Sure, it wasn’t Paris, but I escaped into my imagination & came up with new story ideas without distractions. Sometimes, I even discovered a home with a distinct architecture (for the area) or a wonderful Korean BBQ in the middle of a strip mall.

Even with living in a car-centric culture, I find a way to walk places. Making the best of my surroundings. Whether cosmopolitan Paris or random Riverside, I keep my passion for walking alive. As long as I have a nifty pair of sneakers & cool tunes, the walking adventures are always stimulating.

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